SHOULD OR SHOULDN’T WE HAVE THE COVID-19 VACCINE?
This is the million dollar question of a lot of people and not only us, dentists, who are day in and out we are dealing with our patients, staff and other people up close and personal as we go about to practice our profession. We, at DMD cEnter, wish that we have straight answer for you, but, we have to be honest that even us are in a cross road of which the better road to take. Thus, we decided to write this editorial and provide information, so, we can at least assists you in trying to discern the pros and the cons of the CoVid-19 vaccine as we decide which is the best way for us .
The coronavirus is not the most contagious nor the deadliest disease to infect the human race. However, what makes this virus a serious threat to all humans is its ability to hide in plain sight due to the existence of asymptomatic carriers. The novel coronavirus also emanates signs and symptoms that can also be easily misdiagnosed as a simple flu making it difficult to do accurate differential diagnosis to immediately address it. Moreover, coronavirus also mutated to different variants while we are still gathering more information and trying to handle on the current one which made it more alarming as this can affect the level of effectiveness of controlling the spread and treating people affected by it.
Currently, COVID-19 vaccines have been developed by many manufacturers in a matter of less than a year. This became possible because of the global unification to bring these vaccines from development to distribution without much red tape due to the critical need to control its further spread that is not only affecting people's health, but, what seems to be more important to many, the economy.
Having the vaccine is a personal choice and a right of the individual to do or not to do yet because of its devastating effect to our way of life and our very own survival, it becomes imperative that we decide not only considering our own well-being but the effect of our decision to others. So, let’s tackle the major reasons why many are hesitant to have this vaccine:
How Long Will the Immunity Last?
There’s no definitive data to answer this question for any brand of vaccines currently available. However, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will confer immunity maybe for two to three years, but, there might still be the need to have the vaccine done annually.
Is It Really Safe?
Although, it is been recorded that the most common side effects of these vaccines maybe pain, redness and swelling on the arm where you got the shot while throughout the rest of your body are tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea, but, the long term effect of these vaccines more than a year or so, if there's any, are still undefined. As of the moment what is sure is that it is relatively safe for adults 18 and above while Pfizer has been authorized for ages 16 and up. It is only recent that the manufacturers are now testing for its safety to children from 12 years old. This is so because children’s immune systems are very different from adults’, and their immune responses can be different at different ages, from infancy through the teenage years.
In addition, for people with pre-existing medical conditions like allergies, these vaccines may not be viable.
Can We Still Get CoVid-19 And Be A Carrier?
What the vaccine does is that it builds your immunity system to fight against it. We may still contract it yet your body can properly handle its effect to prevent further deterioration of your health that for some may lead to death.
There are currently different types of CoVid-19 vaccines and at the same time different variants of CoVid-19 virus. Here are some of the ways the vaccines work to protect us:
➢ Messenger RNA (mRNA) Vaccine – uses genetically engineered mRNA to give your cells instructions for how to make a harmless piece of the S protein found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. After vaccination, your immune cells begin making the S protein pieces and displaying them on cell surfaces. This causes your body to create antibodies. If you become infected with the COVID-19 virus, these antibodies will fight the virus. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines use mRNA and do work against the UK variant of CoVid-19.
➢ Protein Subunit Vaccines – include harmless pieces (proteins) of the virus that causes COVID-19 instead of the entire germ. Once vaccinated, our bodies recognize that the protein should not be there and build T-lymphocytes and antibodies that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we are infected in the future. Novavax is working on a protein subunit COVID-19 vaccine.
➢ Vector Vaccines – contain a modified version of a different weakened virus than the one that causes COVID-19 like the adenovirus. Inside the shell of the modified virus, there is material from the virus that causes COVID-19. This is called a “viral vector.” Once the viral vector is inside our cells, the genetic material gives cells instructions to make a protein that is unique to the virus that causes COVID-19. Using these instructions, our cells make copies of the protein. This prompts our bodies to build T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight this virus if we get infected in the future. The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is a vector vaccine which according to the current data can work against the 2 most prominent variants of CoVid-19, the UK and the South African variants.
There’s no absolute study yet whether the vaccines available can make you not a carrier and pass it on to someone else. Thus, it is still imperative that we still wear a face mask, frequently wash our hands and observe social distancing. Having the vaccine doesn’t mean we will not be doing these anymore.
It is also important to take note that our immunity requires time to build after we get vaccinated, thus, during this period, we are still very much vulnerable to CoVid-19 virus at its fullest extent. In terms of Pfizer and Moderna after the 2 shots are administered it takes at least 2 weeks for the effect to our immunity system to kick in while Johnson and Johnson after its required single shot, it will be several weeks.
As of March, 2021, COVID-19 vaccines according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) it is recorded that Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccines offer immunity with effectiveness in clinical trials of 94% and 95% respectively. Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine also offers immunity with about 66% percent effectiveness at preventing moderate to severe disease and 85% effectiveness at preventing severe disease.
Why Should We Have The Vaccine?
So, why in all of these unknown data and what seems to be not too high effective result should we get this vaccine:
1. Remember no vaccines for any diseases in existence that is 100% effective.
2. The risk of acquiring CoVid-19 and its serious effect on us especially if you are at a compromising health and age. Having a more fighting chance for our body to fight it is much better than not having any at all.
3. As we question on the possible side effect/s that can manifests from these vaccines in the long term, we also have to consider the long term unknown and possible detrimental health effect of the CoVid-19 virus into our body once we contract this such as its impact to the lung function recently observed to several survivors of CoVid-19 virus.
4. The possible difficulty to get proper medical care and attention immediately while there is a high demand on the healthcare system for COVID-19 treatments.
5. The high financial cost of contracting this CoVid-19 virus especially if we ended up in critical condition.
6. The desire of each one of us to be able to go back to what’s relatively normal before in our way of life that has greatly affected many in terms as well on mental health.
Whatever maybe your decision will be, whether to get it or not, must be guided on 2 things: One, on research and information about the vaccines from credible sources. Two, what’s best not only for you but for others especially for your family and love ones. We all want to live life to the fullest and experience it without fear, thus, we do what we can to do what’s right to be part of the solution rather than be a problem.
Dr. Mary Jean Villanueva – Editor | Writer
Dr. Bryan Anduiza - Writer
1. CDC Website - https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/index.html
2. World Health Organization - https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/coronavirus-disease-(covid-19)-vaccines
3. US Food and Drug Administration - https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/covid-19-vaccines
4. South Korea Food and Drug Administration - https://www.mfds.go.kr/eng/brd/m_64/list.do